DEAR FATHER | Rosary blessing is request that God make it an instrument to help us in our quest for holiness

Should I get my new Rosary blessed? If so, why? 

You're off to the Catholic goods store to buy a new rosary! After carefully choosing which one you would like and paying for it, a voice in the back of your mind reminds you that you should have a priest or deacon bless it. But why?

To understand this reason, we need to first understand the distinction between the sacred and the profane. To say that something is profane doesn't mean it's evil. Rather, it's to say that something is ordinary, part of our everyday life. In contrast, the sacred is something special.

This distinction is used more often than you might think. For instance, it may be okay to talk to our spouse or our parents most of the time. During a certain television show or activity, though, we know that they don't want to be disturbed. This time to them is sacred and they ask that others respect this special time for them.

While we understand the distinction working in this more commonplace context, it's most properly applied when speaking of whether a thing is dedicated to be used for God (the sacred) or not (the profane).

When we buy a rosary, it belongs to the realm of the profane. True, such items aren't designed to be used for a purpose other than praising God. But it isn't properly part of the realm of the sacred until a deacon, priest or bishop blesses the item.

Items used in prayer such as rosaries or chaplets, or devotional items such as the scapular or other images of Jesus, Mary and the saints should be blessed. When we have them blessed, we are asking God to make it a channel through which He can help us in our quest for holiness. Out of respect for God who makes them holy, we should treat them with respect. When they become damaged and we need to dispose of them, we should not just throw them away. Rather, breaking up a rosary and burying it or burning an old scapular and burying the remains are ways of reverently disposing of these items.

So having that new rosary blessed is not just a pious thought. It is an important last step as we begin to use that item as part of our prayer and devotional life.

A final point on blessings: While blessings do take profane things and make them sacred, this does not mean that when we have our car or house blessed that we are making them sacred. These blessings are asking that God's presence and protection be with the house or car while it remains something in the realm of the profane.

Father Mayo is pastor of Holy Rosary Parish in Warrenton. 

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